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ND Women’s Basketball: IPFW comes to Purcell to face undefeated Irish

Jared Jedick | Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The No. 5 Irish will play host to a struggling Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne team tonight at 7 in the Purcell Pavilion amid hopes that Notre Dame will be able to extend its winning streak to eight.

Irish coach Muffet McGraw is anxious about complacency amongst her players and said that the Mastodons (3-4) could possibly pull an upset against an undefeated Notre Dame (7-0) team that has been sloppy since returning from the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

“I am really disappointed in the way we have been practicing since coming back from the Paradise Jam,” McGraw said. “I feel like we are complacent. I don’t know if we are reading our rankings, or what we are doing. We are not playing hard, we don’t have any intensity, and we are not focused. And I think that is why we played poorly against Eastern Michigan, and I am not sure what to expect tomorrow.”

McGraw said she hopes the senior leadership will be able to step up and keep the ship sailing in the right direction, but senior guard and captain Melissa Lechlitner has been hobbled this week in practice after injuring her quad and hamstring.

“Lechlitner hasn’t practiced,” McGraw said. “She had a pulled hamstring and she pulled a quad yesterday when she tried to practice.”

McGraw said she believes Lechlitner will be able to make it onto the court and play tonight, but she knows that she will need to get help from other players.

“It is hard without her out there,” McGraw said. “[Senior guard Ashley] Barlow is doing everything she can to get the intensity up. [Junior guard] Brittany Mallory is doing the same thing, but other than those two I do not feel like anybody is really doing what they need to do.”

The team would also like to see junior forward Becca Bruszewski get more time on the court and stay out of foul trouble, as McGraw said she is key to the team’s success.

“Really, overall she has only 17 fouls in 7 games, which is really just two per game,” McGraw said. “It is really just in the last three that she has gotten into foul trouble. I would certainly like her to stay on the floor longer, because overall she is playing really well.”

The inconsistent play is a great worry for McGraw, and she said she believes the team might need a wake-up call to snap out of a post-Virgin Islands malaise.

“We will probably have to lose a game is probably what will be the reality check,” McGraw said. “I thought Eastern Michigan would be a wake-up call, but apparently it wasn’t.”

IPFW brings a lot of skill and size to the table against Notre Dame, and McGraw said she wants the team to get up and ready for what should be a stiff challenge.

“I am worried about their post game, [and] their guards are quick,” McGraw said. “[Junior guard Chelsey] Jackson is kind of a tough matchup for us. She is quick and she can score. Their post can score around the basket and away from the basket, which leads to match-up problems with us having to guard them. With the way we are playing it is a little scary going into the game.”

The Irish should not take a struggling IPFW squad lightly, McGraw said.

“You can’t take anybody lightly, there have been so many upsets,” she said. “We saw that with Eastern Michigan. Any team can come in here and just come out and play hard. It is the Super Bowl for them. This is the biggest game of the year for the teams coming in. They get a chance to play a ranked team, Notre Dame. You bring your A-game and you have to be ready.”